Smack is an excellent drama that explores the life of two protagonist teens, Gemma and David, who run away from home. The two runaway lovers descend to addiction of heroin. The writing exhibits a Britain setting in the 1980’s. The context and language of the novel perfectly correlates to the setting. David, identified by his friends as “Tar,” runs from home to evade abuse from his alcoholic father. He finds the misery created by his parents unbearable and runs to Bristol where he lives in the streets. Later on, an older group of anarchists befriends him to “squat” in an unused house.
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Despite Gemma’s home being less difficult compared to Tar’s, she runs from home to join Tar. She finds it difficult to stay with her strict and conservative parents. Unlike the polite Tar, Gemma is interested in having fun and seemed to have influenced Tar into taking different drugs and partying. As the two got engrossed in fending for their new life, they embrace crime. They stole from the local stores, and later on, Gemma had to work as a prostitute in a massage parlor. Their friends are also addicted to heroin and handled similar challenges. As their youthful enthusiasm dies off, they admit to themselves that they are junkies. They are not deterred from addiction even after the death of two members of the group. They decide to give it a try after one of them gets pregnant, but eats cold turkey and resumes to using drugs after a day (Burgess, 1996). However, they are forced into treatment programs at the end of the novel.
At the beginning of the novel, both Gemma and Tar are 14 years old. In Bristol, Skolly introduces Richard to Tar. Richard takes pity on Tar and finds him somewhere to live. Together with his friends, Vonny and Jerry, Richard decides to accommodate Tar in an abandoned house. The group perceives Gemma as young and is not pleased with her presence. However, they come to the realization that they are a common age group. They struggle in a similar way to sustain their addiction.
At some point, they decide to quit but resume after a day. This was after Lily became pregnant. Lily had been introduced to Tar and Gemma in a party held in the isolated house by Richard. She was the girlfriend to Rob and worked alongside Gemma and Sally as prostitutes in the massage parlor. Rob and Lily influenced Gemma and Tar to join then in smoking heroin (Burgess, 1996). This kind of influence is characteristic among peers. This was the onset of addiction for Tar and Gemma. The group admits they are “junks” as their youthful ideology is washed away. Most of the characters created by the writer are endowed with the task of exhibiting specific theme or complement other characters to outline a theme. Burgess manipulates the characters in the novel in a way that the reader develops hatred and love for the characters and this is what forces the reader to flip pages in anticipation.
Sometimes experience proves a relevant criterion towards the realization of one self. The novel excellently explores the experiences of a typical teenager. The novel poses a group of “junks” who blindly seek to indulge in drug addiction. Tar and Gemma are lured into the group. Lily and Rob invite them to join them in smoking heroin. They join them in pursuit of the friendship they upheld. Gemma seemed to have influenced Tar into smoking marijuana when they were left alone in the isolated house.
This novel illustrates that most teenagers develop resolutions that tend to please their peers. Most readers, especially teenagers, relate to the novel. The novel explores the challenges experienced by teenager as they approach maturity. Gemma was rebellious to her parents and thought they were strict. She thus took to the street to have the liberty to control her own life. From experience, she learnt the preferable values her parents were imposing on her during her teenage. This urge for liberty among teenagers is a normal phenomenon. Most teenagers find their parents too strict and conservative whenever they provide guidance. In many ways, the challenges experienced by Tar and Gemma correlate to the challenges embraced by the teenagers as they approach early adulthood. This way, the book tackles the challenges by its readers thus relating to them perfectly. The issues posed by the novel stirs controversy and discussion among the readers.
In conclusion, it is mindful to observe that the novel does not confine its teachings within the abuse of drugs alone. It enables teenagers in their development stages of life to engage challenges, and make right decisions. The language employed by the writer matches the context of the drama. The writer develops ideas in a sequential yet fascinating way. Unlike most books written for the young adults, the writer uses the first person. Other characters speak around Gemma and Tar. This makes the novel interesting to read since it avoids monotony. The ideas developed by the author transit systematically and they are easy to follow. The vocabulary employed by the writer depicts the novel in a manner well understood by a young adult. The writer adapts different styles for each character, which allow the reader to grasp content while enjoying the reading. Novel addressing real life problems are plenty in the market domain, but Burgess’ Smack is undeniably the most convenient and interesting novel that has tackled problems revolving around teenage life. This is arguably the most interesting teenage novel from an acclaimed writer.
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